In fiscal year 2019, Arizona districts spent 54.7 percent of available operating dollars on instruction, marking the third consecutive year with an increase in the instructional spending percentage in 15 years. However, since its peak in fiscal year 2004, the State’s instructional spending percentage has declined 3.9 percentage points, while the percentages spent on most other operational areas have increased. Between fiscal years 2018 and 2019, districts’ operational spending increased by $475 million with $310 million of the increase spent on instruction. During this same time period, the State’s average teacher salary increased $3,490, or 7.1 percent, to $52,441.
Compared to national averages, in fiscal year 2019, Arizona districts spent about $3,100 less per pupil and allocated their resources differently, spending a lower percentage of resources on instruction and administration and a greater percentage on all other operational areas.
Although factors outside a district’s control—such as district size, type, and location—can affect its efficiency in noninstructional areas, some districts operate efficiently and have lower costs despite these factors, while others do not. As a result, there are wide ranges of costs within peer groups of similar districts. Our performance audits of school districts have identified practices efficient districts use, as well as practices that make other districts less efficient.
In addition to State-wide analysis, this report also contains a 1-page summary for each district and the State showing their performance on various financial and student measures. Additionally, for the third year, we have prepared a Microsoft Excel file as part of this report that contains the numbers and other information presented in the graphics on the school district and State summary pages. This file can be found under “Additional Documents” on the right side of this page.